Xerxes Canal

LocationNea Roda

This is the largest technical work done in antiquity in Halkidiki. During the Persian wars, namely in 480 BC, according to Herodotus, the king of Persia Xerxes wanted to drive his large fleet from Akanthos to Thermi (as was then called Thessaloniki), avoiding the dangerous passage of Athon in order not to have the fate of Marlonio’s fleet a decade ago. Thus, he ordered and opened a canal that stretched from today’s Nea Roda to Tripiti and connected the bay of Ierissos to the Siggitikos bay, where the cities of Asa, Pillos, Siggos and Sarti were already subjugated to the Persians

The canal, although mentioned by Herodotus, who even described its dimensions in detail, as well as the renowned ancient historian Thucydides, was nevertheless challenged by historians in the recent and distant past. The main controversy came from Dimitrios Skipsios, who observed that at one end of the ancient canal there was a hard rock, impossible to excavate at the time of the opening, which led him to speculate on the existence of a diol at that point.

Generally speaking, the cause of the diol, as in ancient Corinth, was also supported by some other writers. According to Herodotus’ description, the work Xerxes assigned to Artachai and Vouvaros. It is said that the terrible Artachai, who was Achaemenidis, surpassed all the Persians in the stature with a height of almost 2.5 meters and a stealthy voice. But just before the end of the canal, he became seriously ill and died, something that Xerxes considered bad omen. Artachai was cast in Acantho with great honors.

The canal is buried today. It is located between the villages of Nea Roda and Tripiti, and the landscape between villages does not remind the ancient massive construction, except one small valley in the center of the isthmus. The canal is 2 kilometers long and 30 meters wide. Its maximum depth is estimated at 15 meters. It is visible from a height, as the point has been precipitated. In 2008, investigations were made by British and Greek engineers who showed their exact location and dimensions and ruptured the Dioxol theory.

Evidence shows that the canal was abandoned after its opening, so there are no remains of buildings around it. It seems more like an attempt from Xerxes to impress and demonstrate power to the then inhabitants of Halkidiki.